The Discovery Phase: Targeted Keyword Research + Evaluation

How do you know which keywords are worth targeting? What parameters should you consider when deciding what type of content is optimal for your specific keywords?

Hello again! Danni from Surfer here, and I'm back for this next lesson. In this lesson, we're going to build a little bit off of what we talked about in the previous lesson: you know, search intent, user intent and all that jazz.

In this lesson, we're going to answer two pretty important questions:

  1. How do you find that best content that's ranking for your keyword? In order to compare, contrast and figure out what's working?

  2. What guidelines and parameters should you keep in mind when deciding which keyword to rank for?

So, there's a lot of information in this lesson as per usual. Ready to getstarted? Ready to take notes? Let's go!

I want you all to think of SEO as this living, breathing monster, I mean very real marketing science: it’s always changing; what worked last year may not work now, and there’s no such thing as “golden rules” only guidelines and best practices.

Research, however, is almost always a good idea.

There are many benefits to running keyword research. You can:

Find out which keywords are worth targeting. This is the most important aspect of keyword research.

You can determine which keywords you’re able to compete for, which will bring the most valuable traffic.

Select keywords with the biggest potential. Significant traffic for a keyword doesn’t always mean this traffic will go to your site. And even if it does - you won’t necessarily convert your visitors. Why? We’ll talk about it in a second.

Assess the users’ needs and intentions for a given keyword. The content must meet the expectations of your readers. SERP can tell you a lot about your audience’s pain points.

Find out the preferred form of content for a query. Is it a blog post, a product page, or maybe a video?

Prepare an outline of a text and/or segment the topic. Google shows us sections “People also ask” or “Searches related to” - and we can answer these questions in our text to satisfy our readers.

Estimate the range of information for one article. Are people looking for “ultimate guides,” or are they just after short and sweet definitions?

Find out which stage of awareness your prospect is at. (more on that very soon) People ask different questions at different stages.

Check what kind of information Google is offering the searchers, and you’ll guess which stage of awareness your article should cover. For example, if most articles are product comparisons and listicles, you know that this keyword will be useful for prospects in the product-aware stage.

As you can see, keyword research is essential both from an SEO AND content quality perspective. And as SEO writers, we want to combine them.

Now that we know what keyword research is and why we should care, let’s move on to the most crucial part of keyword research: keyword evaluation.

Keyword evaluation is exactly like it sounds: determining whether a given keyword is right for us to target.

So, you have a few neat ideas. You’ve taken them from the SERP, gathered ideas from your co-workers, scanned social media, and or maybe ran a poll among your customers.

But not all of them will help you achieve your goal: increased organic traffic and conversion rate.

Search volume

Search intent



In order to find the best content that ranks for your keyword you’ll also have to have a look around at your competitors. Why?

Competitor analysis will tell us:

How long our article should be. Writing a longer piece isn’t always the best option. You should stick to the middle of the pack here. You can instead save your strength by writing shorter, more direct-to-the-point content. In fact, writing more than necessary just for the sake of writing when the question could be answered in a more straightforward way may have the opposite effect!

What the common structure and type of articles are. How-tos, lists, FAQs, long-form guides, recipes, short answer etc. And what question the articles tend to answer.

With Surfer you can check out the estimated search volume for given keywords--if it’s super high, it probably means that the keyword is competitive. Most often, the higher search volume, the high er competition. The more people search for something, the more sales or commission from ads you can make. Search volume analysis can help you pick low-competitive keywords also.

Please don't forget what I mentioned in the previous lesson. You can use Surfer to build your entire content strategy. We have these amazing filter options, and you can also check volume and search intent.

To speed up the process, let me introduce you to the Content Planner tool.

Choose Content Planner in your Surfer account, and create a query for your main or seed keyword. Pick your location or market.

Then, wait while Surfer crunches the data. Our algorithms are based on machine learning, BERT, and clustering logic, so you can be sure the results will be optimal.

When the query is ready, just click it, and… voila! You will see a bunch of tiles - these are the ideas for your next articles and all the keywords they should include.

What’s super cool is that you can filter the supporting pages based on the search intent they should respond to, and by their difficulty!

If you connect Google Search Console to your Surfer account, you will be able to see Relative Difficulty, which is calculated based on your domain strength! This is how you can automate your keyword research process!

Next, when you want to establish some parameters for your post or article…

Make sure you pay close attention to: length: you can even copy the articles to a file and draw the average number of words. paragraph length The number of paragraphs The number of headings (and what keywords they contain) additional media, like pictures, videos, etc., And lastly, overall website quality - whether or not the article is easy to read and navigate.

I don’t know about you, but I'm feeling just slightly overwhelmed with all that information. Let's take a communal deep breath. * takes a breath *

Where was I? Let's talk about our Content Editor.

It’s Surfer’s tool to help you establish these benchmarks and ensure that you leave no stone unturned. You’re only human, you know?

Content Editor helps you prepare guidelines for your content, and has a very specific and practical metric to choose your competition. See this circle? This is the Content Score number of each search engine result. To make sure you’re only using high-quality articles as inspiration, choose articles with the highest score possible.

Using Surfer’s Content Editor you will be able to:

Check recommended guidelines on word + paragraph count, Receive a suggested number for images and headers to include,

Consult a list of terms to use and NLP-safe keywords to include (and how many times) (Don’t worry, I'll talk more about NLP in the following lesson!)

Cross-reference with competitors ranking for the same keyword, And you’ve got an on-screen metric showing you how well you’re doing (or not).

That's pretty freakin' cool right? At least I think so... So we're going to stop here. In the next lesson, we're going to build some outlines. Until then, happy Surfing!

Last updated